NBA Draft Lottery: Could the NBA's top pick be moved before the draft?

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Thumbnail image for jwall.jpgTeams just do not trade the top pick in the NBA Draft. Doesn’t happen.

It has been 17 years since the NBA’s top overall pick was traded before the draft. The fact is elite talent is just too hard to come by in the NBA, you need elite talent to win big and if you get the chance to draft it you don’t trade it away.

John Wall is an elite talent. In a league where point guard play dominates more and more (because of how the rules are enforced) Wall is going to be a force. In a few years he will be called one of the best point guards in the game. You can build around this guy.

And somebody might trade away his rights.

That’s because a lot of the teams at the top of the lottery food chain are actually set at point guard. They could take somebody else, or they could get a little value for that pick and move down a few spots for someone who really wants Wall.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have a 19.9 percent chance at the top spot, but they drafted two point guards last year at fifth and sixth overall — Ricky Rubio, the sensation still playing in Europe and will be for at least another year; and Johny Flynn. What is worse, they have committed to run the triangle offense — a system that does not call for a strong point guard. If the T-Wolves win the lottery, they have some serious decisions to make about what kind of team they want to build and who of the three will be their point guard.

The Wolves could decide they don’t need another point guard and trade the pick. Or they could draft Wall and just start stockpiling point guards like food in bomb shelter.

The Sacramento Kings have a 15.6 percent chance of winning the top pick — and they are set at point guard with Tyreke Evans. The guy who just won the Rookie of the Year Award and averaged 20 points and five assists per game. He is going to be an elite point, and the Kings have committed to building around him. If they get the top pick, you would think they would listen to offers.

Golden State has a 10.4 percent chance of the top pick, and their entire backcourt is overloaded with young players. They have Stephen Curry, the guy who finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting and a guy who stepped into the point guard role last season. They also have Monta Ellis who can run the point.

The bigger problem in the Bay Area is the team is for sale and nobody knows how long that will take, so consequently nobody knows who will be the coach come the fall and what style of basketball will be played. If Don Nelson is running the show, Wall in a three-guard offense can work. But then again, Nelson may sit him. The whole situation there is unpredictable.

If the Nets — the favorites at 25 percent after their horrid 12-win season – win the lottery tonight this talk is moot. They will not trade. But if the top pick and the rights to Wall do fall down the ladder, LeBron James may not be the only player move fans discuss for the next month.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.